Longtime talk show host Mitch Henck, who also contributes a daily commentary to the Wisconsin State Journal's website, asked a pertinent question the other day.
"Why does Scott Walker need to run by ripping Madison?" was the title of his video commentary.
The typically centrist Henck went on to say that as a guy who grew up in Indiana, he never once saw a time when a statewide politician would troll for votes by tearing down the state's capital city, Indianapolis.
But that's the first thing Walker did when he learned that Madison Mayor Paul Soglin had decided to run for the Democratic nomination for governor.
In a Twitter post, Walker wrote that “the last thing we need is more Madison in our lives,” and added that Soglin “is the latest extreme liberal who wants to take our state backward — just like he did in Madison, where businesses have left and murders have gone up,” Walker wrote.
"Give me a break," said Henck as he noted that Madison's nine homicides last year was minuscule compared to other cities its size. South Bend, Indiana, had 120 murders in town — and that was 30 years ago, he added.
He's right, it's really sad when a state leader has to run against a city — and a particularly successful one at that — in his own state.
But Scott Walker is the epitome of the "divide and conquer" politician. It was the guiding mantra behind his first gubernatorial election, in which he successfully convinced voters that the real villains were the public workers and schoolteachers who were getting pay and benefits far superior to theirs. It's been the hallmark of his political career.
Real leaders help their people find ways to improve their own lot, not work to reduce everyone to the lowest common denominator. That, however, doesn't attract a lot of campaign funds from the likes of the Koch brothers or in-state union demonizers like billionaire Diane Hendricks.
"It would be nice to have leaders who would bring us all together," Henck concluded.
It sure would.
Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times. firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @DaveZweifel. Zweifel is the co-author, along with John Nichols, of the new book "The Capital Times: A Proudly Radical Newspaper's Century Long Fight for Justice and Peace," published by the Wisconsin Historical Society Press. It's available on the Historical Society website, and at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
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